Spotting the fake

Marina Jirotka 150x150

Marina Jirotka

Helena Webb 150x150

Helena Webb

Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing, Associate Director of the Oxford e-Research Centre and Associate Researcher of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Helena Webb is a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford.

Here they consider what can be done by government and social media platforms to tackle the problem of fake news.

As campaigning in the UK General Election gained momentum in April 2017, the Chairman of the Government’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee called for Facebook to improve its handling of fake news on the platform. Referencing concerns that the spread of false stories across social media had influenced the results of the 2016 US Presidential election, Damian Collins MP suggested that the propagation of content of this kind could threaten the ‘integrity of democracy’. Continue reading

Mine your data – why understanding online health communities matters

aude-bicquelet-4-webDr Aude Bicquelet is a Research Director in the Health team at NatCen – the National Centre for Social Research. Aude specialises in the analysis of ‘Big Qualitative Data’ on health-related issues and has worked with professional and regulatory health bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Royal College of Physicians. 

In November, Aude presented findings from a recent study looking into how people use social media to discuss health issues at the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

A staggering 73% of adults in the UK turn to the internet when experiencing health problems. Whether it is to check symptoms, find out about available treatments or share experiences about living with a particular condition, the internet has become the first port of call with many turning to the web before they even consider going to see a doctor.
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‘Big data’ in action: Linking 180 million tweets with 600,000 police records

Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap are directors of the ESRC-funded Social Data Science Lab that continues the successful COSMOS programme of work. The Lab forms part of the Data Innovation Research Institute, which will be housed within the new Social Science Research Park at Cardiff University.

Together with colleagues (Dr Luke Sloan and Professor Omer Rana) they recently presented their intriguing findings about the power of pulling large sets of data from social media in front of 150 policymakers, academics and industry experts at the Data Science and Government ConferenceThe event, organised by the Behavioural Insights Team, looked at how emerging techniques in data science can best be used to support policy agendas in a range of areas.

Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap

Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap

Many would say there has been a lot of hype about the promise of Big Data and Data Science in government circles in recent years.  The Data Science and Government Conference gave one of the first opportunities for presenters, from government and academia, to demonstrate how very large datasets are being put to use in real-world policy contexts to address a range of pressing questions and to introduce new efficiencies. Recently the Cabinet Office developed a set of guidelines for the ethical use of big data in government projects.
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